JUDGES have presided over a record number of entries to select finalists for this year’s Open 4 Business (O4B) awards.

Award entries were up 45 per cent on 2011 entry levels and 60 per cent up on 2010 levels.

More than 75 per cent of the award entrants entered the 04B awards for the first time. More than half of the entries came from outside the Weymouth and Portland area.

The judging session was held at Weymouth College, where judges deliberated over 12 hotly-contested categories.

Julie Cleaver, managing director of O4B, said: “I would like to thank our main sponsor Weymouth College and all of our award sponsors who made up the judging panel.

“The panel had to make extremely hard decisions when choosing between the record numbers of entries from all over Dorset. “Open 4 Business continues to bring out the best in Dorset business and everyone who is involved in the judging process has learnt something new about local businesses.”

The Dorset Echo is media partner of the awards and business reporter Joanna Davis sat on the judging panel. The dinner is sponsored by accountants Albert Goodman.

Award ceremony and dinner tickets are available from dinner@weymouth. ac.uk at £60 each.

The Open 4 Business Platforms for Growth conference will be held on October 18 at the Riviera Hotel in Weymouth.

Full details can be found at o4business.co.uk

2012 nominations

After a day of detailed deliberation, the finalists in each category were announced as the following: Small and Medium Business Award sponsored by Lloyds TSB – Dorwest Herbs Shipton Gorge; Swift Signs Weymouth.

Best Large Business Award sponsored by Old Mill Financial – New Look, Weymouth; Daniel’s Fish and Chips, Weymouth.

Best Community Engagement Project Award sponsored by Battens Solicitors – Blondz, Weymouth; The Marketing Bureau (TMB), Poole.

Best New Business sponsored by Dorset LEP – Food Lynx Ltd, Shaftesbury; The Dining Room, Weymouth.

The Best New Innovation or Service Award sponsored by SALT – Odeoflare, Weymouth; Innovative Vehicle Systems, Bere Regis.

Best Marketing Campaign Award sponsored by Resort Marketing – Marketing West, Beaminster; Tandem Marketing, Dorchester .

Best Employer Award sponsored by Wessex FM – Createful, Bournemouth; Dorchester Beauty Therapy and Skin Care Centre, Dorchester.

Best Customer Focus Award sponsored by Puragen, Chalbury Food & Wines, Weymouth; Blondz, Dorchester.

Best of Dorset Food and Drink Award sponsored by DJ Property – The Dining Room, Weymouth; Beaminster Brasserie at the Bridgehouse.

Inspirational Young Person sponsored by Equation Accounting – Elysia Munday of Weymouth; Matthew Cornick of Weymouth.

Business of the Year 2012 sponsored by Weymouth College – the winner will be announced at the award ceremony.

Outstanding Contribution to Business Award sponsored by Porter Dodson – the winner will be announced at the award ceremony.

All finalists will be invited to attend the 04B Awards Dinner on October 25 at Weymouth College, where the winners will be announced.